May Allison

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May Allison
Film actress May Allison (SAYRE 1098).jpg
Allison in 1925
Born(1890-06-14)June 14, 1890
DiedMarch 27, 1989(1989-03-27) (aged 98)
Years active1914–1927
Colonel J.L. Stephenson
(m. 1919;annulled 1920)

(m. 1920;div. 1923)

(m. 1926;died 1932)

Carl Norton Osborne (died 1982)

May Allison (June 14, 1890 – March 27, 1989) was an American actress whose greatest success was achieved in the early part of the 20th century in silent films, although she also appeared on stage.


Life and career

Allison was born in Rising Fawn, Georgia, the youngest of five children born to Dr. John Simon "Sam" Allison and Nannie Virginia (née Wise) Allison. She made her Broadway stage debut in the 1914 production of Apartment 12-K before settling in Hollywood, California in the early days of motion pictures. Allison's screen debut was as an ingenue in the 1915 star-making Theda Bara vehicle A Fool There Was .


When Allison was cast that same year opposite actor Harold Lockwood in the Allan Dwan directed romantic film David Harum , audiences quickly became enamored of the onscreen duo. The pair starred in approximately twenty-five highly successful features together during the World War I era and became one of the first celebrated on-screen romantic duos. [1]

Allison and Lockwood's highly popular film romances ended, however, when in 1918 Lockwood died at the age of 31 after contracting Spanish influenza, a deadly epidemic that swept the world from 1918 through 1919 killing 50 to 100 million people globally. Allison's career then faltered markedly without her popular leading male co-star.[ citation needed ] She continued to act in films throughout the 1920s, although she never received the same amount of public acclaim as when she starred opposite Harold Lockwood. Her last film before retiring was 1927's The Telephone Girl , opposite Madge Bellamy and Warner Baxter.[ citation needed ]

Allison was secretly married to Col. William Stephenson in Santa Ana, California, in December 1919, but the marriage was annulled in February 1920. On Thanksgiving day in 1920, [2] Allison married writer and actor Robert Ellis. [3] Allison filed for divorce from Ellis in December 1923, citing cruelty as the reason. Her filing explained the couple had married on November 25, 1920 in Greenwich, Connecticut and were separated about November 5, 1923. [4] Allison then married Photoplay magazine editor James R. Quirk, a union that lasted until 1932. [5]

Allison's last marriage, to Cleveland industrialist Carl Norton Osborne, lasted over 40 years until his death in 1982. In her later years, she spent much of her time at her vacation home in Tucker's Town, Bermuda, and was a patron of the Cleveland Orchestra. [5]


Allison died of respiratory failure in Bratenahl, Ohio, in 1989 at the age of 98,[ citation needed ] and was buried at the Gates Mills South Cemetery in Gates Mills, Ohio. [6]

Selected filmography

Allison (left) with Helen Taft. May Allison and Helen Taft.jpg
Allison (left) with Helen Taft.
Still of Harold Lockwood and Allison in the 1916 silent drama Big Tremaine. Big Tremaine 1916.jpg
Still of Harold Lockwood and Allison in the 1916 silent drama Big Tremaine.

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  1. Cozad, W. Lee (2002). Those Magnificent Mountain Movies: (The Golden Years) 1911-1939. p. 47. ISBN   0-9723372-1-0.
  2. "From the Studios". The Kansas City Star. Missouri, Kansas City. September 25, 1921. p. 56. Retrieved August 26, 2020 via
  3. "May—Married!". Photoplay. Vol. 21 no. 3. February 1922. pp. 62–63 via Internet Archive.
  4. "May Allison Sues For Divorce on Cruelty Charges". Evening Star. Washington, DC. December 4, 1923. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  5. 1 2 Slide, Anthony (February 26, 2011). Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers. Jacksonville: University Press of Mississippi. p. 65. ISBN   978-1604734133.
  6. "Inside the Enclaves". Cleveland Magazine. June 20, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2021.